Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel
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Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel
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  #1  
Old 11-07-2008, 07:47 PM
Rosim_in_BR Rosim_in_BR is offline
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Default Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel

Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri
Laelia purpurata Lindl. - var. werkhauseri on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

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Laelia purpurata Lindl. - var. werkhauseri on Flickr - Photo Sharing!


This is the story of the discovery of L. purpurata var. werkhauseri as told many times by Heitor Gloeden, a dear Brazilian collector that I had the pleasure and the privilege to know in the 80's. He followed all of those events in the 50's. He knew many orchid stories and was delighted telling them. He passed away, but his stories remain.
Here's how things happened:
In 1904, the first two plants we now know as L. purpurata var. werkhauseri were found by Karl Werkhauser in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. The first one found was not that good at all, but the second was so beautiful that he called it 'Superba' (superb). At that time, nobody had ever seen any purpurata with that violet-plumb color. A wonder! Werkhauser kept the plants for himself and his family only and just a few of his closest friends had the chance of looking at the flowers. Why he did this, no one knows for sure. Jealousy? Vainness? The feeling of "I have, you all don't"? People say a lot but, whatever is the case, the decision of keeping the plants off people's sight was terrible. Collectors and orchid lovers only knew about it by 'hearing to say'. Karl Werkhauser died in 1914 and one of the plants went to his son (the first found) and the other, the 'Superba', to his daughter. 'Superba' was the one, and everybody wanted it, not the other. But, the Werkhausers continued to keep the plants for themselves only, locked by seven keys. Then people start saying 'Did you see the Witch's jewel yet?" in a not so pleasant reference to her and the flower she insisted to keep enclosed. It was not before 1954 (half a century after its discovery!!!) that Frau Werkhauser accepted to receive a group of orchid collectors and the clone 'Superba' was finally negotiated. The group left São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul where she lived at that time. The negotiations started at noon and they had the terms agreed by midnight. Frau Werkhauser agreed selling the five bulbs her plant had at that time in exchange of a huge, non revealed sum of money (only five bulbs in 50 years??!!! Can you imagine the risk of loosing such a plant in all those years?). And there's more: she'd sell it only on the condition that nobody ever knows about the transaction and especially the sum involved! When the check was ready - surprise!! - she said she wouldn’t take checks, only cash. But, how could that be in the middle of the night with all the banks closed? Well, luckily, one of the negotiators was the President for a bank in Rio Grande do Sul. He got the check, run to his bank at 1 a.m., separated the money and quickly got back to Frau Werkhauser. She looked at the pile of bills in front of her, checked the money out and, satisfied, said: "Now, you can take the plant". A few minutes later a telegraphic message flew from Rio Grande to São Paulo saying: "The Witch's jewel's with us!”

Last edited by Rosim_in_BR; 11-07-2008 at 07:53 PM..
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  #2  
Old 11-07-2008, 08:20 PM
Cookiemonster Cookiemonster is offline
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Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel Female
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Oh My ... what a story!!! Goodness, that plant is a beauty, but talk about over protection (sounds like she needed help) hahaha.
Thank you for sharing Mauro, you know Im weak to purpuratas
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Old 11-07-2008, 09:31 PM
snow snow is offline
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what a great story. it is such a wonderfull orchid.
who knows how many other orchids no one knows about have been kept locked up with seven keys.
but only 5 bulbs after 50 yrs sounds a bit fishy to me.
great story.
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Old 11-07-2008, 09:37 PM
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Stunning flowers and great story!! I bet there were only 5 bulbs because they divided it and had half of the plant stashed away somewhere! Either way, that is one wierd family! Are there any rumors about how much money was paid??
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Old 11-07-2008, 09:55 PM
Rosim_in_BR Rosim_in_BR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snow View Post
what a great story. it is such a wonderfull orchid.
who knows how many other orchids no one knows about have been kept locked up with seven keys.
but only 5 bulbs after 50 yrs sounds a bit fishy to me.
great story.
Only five bulbs after 50 years? Hard to believe, I agree!

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Originally Posted by isurus79 View Post
Stunning flowers and great story!! I bet there were only 5 bulbs because they divided it and had half of the plant stashed away somewhere! Either way, that is one wierd family! Are there any rumors about how much money was paid??
Yep, Steve, it is possible that they had a piece hidden somewhere. About the money, not a clue on how much they paid, but Heitor always said that it was a huge amount for that time. The four or five that went to negotiate were wealthy men and it is known that they spent a lot of money, but nobody knows for sure how much.
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Old 11-07-2008, 10:27 PM
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Tindomul Tindomul is offline
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Amazing story for an amazing orchid!! Thanks for telling this to us.
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Old 11-08-2008, 01:10 PM
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Awesome story, although 5 bulbs isn't much. Wouldn't be surprised it they still had countless divisions of the plant hidden away somewhere. It's such a gorgeous orchid!
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2011, 03:26 PM
nikv nikv is offline
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Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel Male
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You can read more on the story in L.C. Menezes' book "Laelia purpurata". She retells the story on pages 86-89. She states that the five-bulb division that was sold was only one of many divisions of the plant in her posession. She also states that the acquired division of 'Werkhauserii-Superba' was crossed with another werkhauseri descended from the original plant that ended up with her brother. I guess we could surmise that all individuals of variety werkauseri today are descended from that cross. If you get a chance to acquire this book, please do so.

Last edited by nikv; 05-04-2011 at 04:17 PM..
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:47 PM
cday2inflorida cday2inflorida is offline
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Laelia purpurata var. werkhauseri, the witch's jewel Female
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excellent read!
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:58 PM
Cattleya17 Cattleya17 is offline
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Wow Mauro i love this story!!!!! I love the flowers! i want one! i say that all the time but i really want one of these!
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